Cutting It Close: The 8 Best Electric Shavers & Razors
You don’t need to prove your masculinity to anyone. Sure, you’re going to get more macho points to spend at the man store if you use a straight razor or shave off your stubble with a survival knife, but that’s archaic. Instead of proving you’ve got the stones to risk tetanus by running a rusty hunk of metal across your neck, show the world that you’ve got the brains to go high-tech with an amazing electric shaver. It will demonstrate that you’re hip to the 21st century, even if you do still use the word “hip” like some jive turkey.
These devices aren’t the silly, incompetent apparatuses that they once were. They can now work wet and dry and the good ones will give you a shave so smooth that they put many standard blades to shame. In addition, they’ll save you money over time since they don’t use all the gels, foams, and expensive cartridges that come with modern blades. You also won’t have to clean up blood every time you make a mistake, so come out of the cave and snag yourself one of the 8 best electric shavers & razors for modern shaving.
Braun M90 MobileShave
Pro: Travel guard protects the head
Con: Does not work on thicker beard growth
Road Warrior: Though electric razors are typically the easiest to cart around for quick shaving on the run, the mobile offerings are not as broad or as deep as we would like. Frankly the M90 is not very different from the Norelco PQ208/40 or the Panasonic ES3831k, either of which will do right by you on the road. What makes the M90 stand out a little is both its wet/dry capability and the additional trimmer that helps you with touch-ups on your sideburns or that sexy 70’s pornstar moustache that you refuse to give up.
The foil head gives you a close shave, adheres to the contours of your face, and is slightly kinder to sensitive skin than mobile rotary shavers. It won’t work if you have more than a little growth since the head clogs easily, so if you grow hair like a teenager with a hormone imbalance, it might be best to pick something made of sturdier stuff. The base locks down so it can’t accidentally be turned on, and it has a guard that fits over the top so the baggage handlers that are kicking your suitcase around won’t bust the blades. [Purchase: $21]
Wahl Lithium Ion 3 in 1
Pro: Can handle scalp and beard trimming
Con: Heads are hard to change
Trimmer Too: Wahl made a name for itself as being one of the most inexpensive yet functional hair and beard trimmers on the market. Odds are good that at one time or another a Wahl has touched your head or the back of your neck. Their ubiquity gives them some leeway on the clipper market, though they have certainly pressed that line of credit with the Ion. It is just about the only true electric razor/hair clipper hybrid on the market that doesn’t – how you say – completely suck. That being said, it is not a stellar shaver.
You will get a good shave with the razor that is close enough for a day at work, but you’re going to want to use a nice blade or a decent safety razor if you plan on getting intimately close to anyone, since you’ll end up with a tiny touch of stubble. The adjustable hair, eyebrow, and sideburn trimmers are very good, though there is a curve in learning to change the head. It holds a charge for a long time yet does pump out some decent cutting power. When you need a great hair trimmer with a very good razor, there really isn’t any other choice, particularly for the price. [Purchase: $60]
Philips Norelco YS524/41
Pro: Interchangeable heads swap easily
Con: Only two rotary blades
Swiss Army Shaver: The Norelco triple threat doesn’t have the same high number of functions that you’ll get with the Wahl because it focuses more closely on shaving rather than adding in hair trimming and a whole slew of attachments for handling everything from sideburns to – ahem – private grooming south of the Mason Dixon line. It does have a couple of interchangeable heads, each of which work well for their intended purpose. If you’re a proud beard wearer then the trimming attachment will keep it clean and groomed so it doesn’t become a bristling brier patch.
The YS524/41 has five settings that will work for most close beards or keeping your bitchin’ stach from going Walrussy on you. The standard rotary head has only two turning blades that will give you a close shave that doesn’t quite deliver exceptionally smooth results. Finally, a foil head can help you handle some basic manscaping for those times when you have a swim meet or an oiled up dance party planned for the weekend. Each head snaps on and off for rapid changes and easy use. Can work wet as well as dry. [Purchase: $50]
Pro: Works for both home and travel
Con: Large and bulky
Budget Rotary: A good rotary razor with a flexible head can be a thing of wonder. A bad rotary razor will leave you bloody and battered by the side of the road, dipping your face in milk, and trying to bite back tears. Typically, the cheaper the rotary, the more damage it will do to your skin. The XR1370 tries to break that trend and mostly succeeds at offering a budget-friendly shave that catches all the pockets of your skin without irritating your face. Each blade is covered by a guard with several holes that are meant for specific kinds of hair. There are those that help capture the curlies that twist away from blades, those that catch longer hairs that try to lie flat, and plenty of stubble snaggers to get the small frys.
The active flex of the XR1370’s head helps keep it in contact at all points as it moves along your skin. The rubber grip and large handle are a welcome relief, particularly for wet shavers who don’t want to drop their razor in the shower. A little pop-up trimmer can even out sideburns or a moustache. The flipping base both holds the razor in place and acts as a guard when in transit so that it doesn’t accidentally turn on. The quick charge option works well for giving you a last minute shave even when you forgot to plug it in. This is essentially a home razor that can also go on tour with you. [Purchase: $90]
Braun CoolTec Shaver
Pro: Reduces irritation
Con: No specialized cleaning option
The Ice Man Cometh: Electric shavers are notoriously tough on people with sensitive skin. Even using all the gels and creams and salves in the world will often only leave you with mild irritation. The Cool Tec is specifically designed to help relieve the burning of shaving by actually cooling your skin off as you shave. An aluminum bar ices the skin as you go to numb it and make the hair removal process less troublesome. If you don’t enjoy the wintry sensation it can be turned off with just the touch of a button. It works wet or dry without the need for gels or foams, even when in the shower. In fact, those can damage the razor and are completely unnecessary.
Like a lot of foil razors, this has a little trouble when working around the neck, so expect to make a couple of passes if you need a really smooth face. It does try very hard by implementing a triple-cut system that has blades moving both forwards and backwards to catch any hairs that like to hide, but the limited flexibility of the head prevents it from slicing away in every nook and cranny around your throat. A quick charge system can have you ready to rock in just 5 minutes. A great mid-range razor, though you may want to spend a little more and get the cleaning and charging base for an extra $50. [Purchase: $90]
Braun Series 7 790cc
Pro: Self-cleaning base increases longevity
Con: Works poorly on the neck
Most for the Money: The 790cc is an inexpensive work of art. To get the same closeness out of an electric razor, you can expect to pay more than twice what the 790 retails for. It offers 10,000 micro vibrations per minute, which is well above average. The gap between the blade and your face is one of the smallest available which will give you an incredibly close shave, though it doesn’t work well with contours, especially around your neck. It comes with a gorgeous LED readout that tells you how much battery power is left and what the hygiene level of the razor is, which will keep you from using it when filthy or when it won’t last though a whole shaving session.
Whenever it needs a cleaning or a charge, just slip it into the base like putting the sword back into the stone. The base is one of the best parts of the 790 because it offers a quick cleaning option that will swab off and disinfect your razor even as it pumps up the battery. It cleans and lubricates the handheld with alcohol that will kill off any germs and keep the blades sharper than just sink cleaning alone. Expect to get between an hour and 75 minutes off of a full charge. Replacing the solution in the base can get costly, but you gotta pay to play with this beauty. [Purchase: $173]
Philips Norelco 1280X/47 SensoTouch 3D aka 8100
Pro: Flexing head works well with contours
Con: Cleaning solution cost adds up over time
Rotary Club Master: Rotary shavers are almost always a win/lose – mostly lose – scenario. The pulling and tugging that takes place with cheap rotary shavers will leave your face feeling violated and often turn people off. Such is not the case with the SensoTouch 3D. It manages to cut close without mauling your skin or making you feel like you just made out with a hedge trimmer. The beautiful ergonomic body fits in your hand like a favorite tool, making it easy to use even if you’ve developed carpal tunnel.
The triple bladed, flexing head moves over and around your face with ease, catching every stray hair that wants to hide just below your ear or in the hollow of your neck. It can be used wet or dry, which is an advantage if you’re a shower shaver, but it doesn’t necessarily improve the performance of the SensoTouch 3D. The base uses a JetClean system that cleans, maintains, and lubricates your blade, though you’ll be paying for the solution from now to eternity, so figure that into your overall cost over time. Shave time remaining is displayed in big, white numbers so you’ll always know how many minutes you have left. [Purchase: $233]
Pro: 5 blades
Con: Very costly
Supreme Cutter: Practice this phrase in the mirror: “I’m sorry honey, we can’t go see your parents for Christmas because I just bought this new razor. You know you hate it when I have stubble. Really, it’s a gift for both of us.” The ES-LV95-S is the expensive optoin that no one warned you about. It has five blades crammed into its huge head that go over your face like an army of electric lawnmowers, leaving nothing in their wake but smooth skin. It has an incredible 14,000 CPM (Cuts Per Minute) ratio that is higher than anything else, except other products in the same line.
Inside the razor is a sensor that automatically detects your beard’s growth and adjusts accordingly. Unlike standard razors, the five blades each have a specific purpose and are placed beneath one of Panasonics foils. There is a tech foil for lifting stubborn or ingrown hairs, a slit blade for handling hairs growing in strange directions, an arc foil for moving with the peaks and valleys of your skin, and a finishing foil for handling any fuzz left behind. The LED display covers battery life, sensor mode, cleaning reminders, blade replacement alerts, and tells you to call your mother more. If the price trips you up, you can also consider the ES-LV61-A Arc5 or the ES-LF51-A Arc4, both of which carry lesser versions of the same technology. [Purchase: $480]